A-kart, B-kart, C-kart… and the list goes on and on. Has ‘kart’ become the new generic online brand in India?
It all started with the inception of Flipkart, an eCommerce firm launched in 2007 that has now evolved to be one of largest online retail firm in the country, hence the ‘kart’ phenomenon came into picture. Today, if you notice, there is a galaxy of such kart-named online startups that tends to redo the magic Flipkart created. But, the question that constantly hits my mind is: Does adding a ‘kart’ make you a Flipkart?
Today there are dozens of eCommerce companies that has appended ‘kart’ as their surnames. From relatively know companies like Healthkart, Mebelkart and Lenskart to less/lesser known companies such as Safetykart, Assamkart, Bagskart, all falling for fads in this notorious consumer internet market. Though some of these companies have done pretty well but, will it be apt to bestow all credits to the ‘kart’ factor? Surely not!
A very few of these above mentioned names follow a hardcore eCommerce model and some of them even have nothing to do with carts (written has kart). Then why this name cloning? A sheer coincidence or a marketing stunt by companies (now who would accept it) to be quickly indentified them as online firms? One good reason can be brand association. As India is aggressively moving towards higher internet penetration and online buying behaviour, many first time buyers (who have heard about a Flipkart or a Snapdeal) falls under the impression that these new companies are in some way related to the biggies. As India is a very price sensitive market, consumers here prefer getting good deal above the platform they are getting it from.
The name cloning stories do have a darker side too i.e. copyright infringement. A couple of days back Flipkart has filed a case against Madhya- Pradesh based FlipkartDiscounts.net accusing the firm of copyright and trademark violation (IndianRetailer reported earlier). The startup also used similar logo and directs consumers to various other shopping portals such as Amazon, Snapdeal, Paytm and even Flipkart. Similarly, managed-marketplace Shopclues back in 2014, found out a site registered in Dubai that not only used Shopclues' logo but even copied the contents from the its website. Talking about the same with a media house, Radhika Aggarwal, Co-founder, Shopclues said that there are many cyber squatters in China sitting on cloned names. Many times they let it go but if there is blatant copyright infringement Shopclues make sure to send legal notices.
No doubt the success stories of Flipkart, Snapdeal and Shopclues etc. temps a lot of upcoming startups to name their brand/products on the line of these incumbent market leaders but, at times this cloning might also portray the brand as a plagiarised one.
With increasing internet penetration and splurging living-standards, Indian consumers are becoming more educated. Now, a customer does all possible research and comparisons before buying a product. Gone are the days when retailing was more about companies and less about customers, today’s is a consumer-centric market, and yes cloning can be considered as FAKE by consumers. So, beware!